Information and communications technologies (ICT) can help meet freight performance demands while improving energy efficiency, according to an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy white paper.
Smart Freight: Applications of Information and Communications Technologies to Freight System Efficiency says strategies range from placing freight trucks into electronically-controlled platoons — this reduces drag and controls acceleration events — to transmitting product specifications to distributed manufacturing facilities close to the point of use, which can reduce ton-miles traveled and material waste.
Combing shipments of different types from multiple shippers can also optimize freight movement, resulting in fewer partial loads and empty backhauls, and more opportunities to use intermodal freight services.
Barriers to ICT adoption remain, however, including lack of standardization of data protocols and equipment to ensure interoperability of subsystems, stovepiping of businesses’ operational decisions relating to transportation and warehousing, and the tendency to make incremental changes to existing systems instead of implementing an entirely new system.
In other ways to improve freight efficiency, incoming fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks being devised by the EPA and the NHTSA could reduce the cost of moving freight by 7 percent and owners of tractor-trailer units could save $0.21 per mile, according to a June report from Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres.
Photo Credit: truck with freight via Shutterstock